The Rookery Building

Rookery Building 209 South La Salle Street Chicago

The Windy City Demon/The Rookery Building
HistoryCop
Written By HistoryCop

HistoryCop was founded by Ray Johnson, a life-long Chicago area resident and history buff who is a former criminal investigator.

The Rookery and H. H. Holmes

Standing in grand style at the southeast corner of Adams and LaSalle street is what is considered the masterpiece of the Chicago architectural firm of Burnham and Root. Finished in 1888, the building is considered to be one of Chicago’s first skyscrapers. Complete with new conveniences such as electric lights and elevators, it was and still is a magnificent example of Burnham and Root’s work.

William Green & Co.

Shortly before the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Holmes formed a business called William Green and Co. Holmes had a history of forming businesses using an alias, sometimes henchmen under an alias, and sometimes individuals who had no knowledge they were even part of the business. One thing remained the same, however. In every fake business or con, there had to be a victim or “dupe” who actually had money to be duped out of. In William Green and Co., the dupe was Wisconsin businessman Henry Rogers. Rogers owned a paper mill company in Appleton, Wisconsin and somehow fell into Holmes’ trap. The company was in the business of providing cement and, while much was purchased, none was sold. In 1892, Holmes’ William Green and Co. had offices on the 11th floor of the Rookery Building, room 1169 to be precise. 

Henry J. Rogers and H. H. Holmes

Eventually, when Holmes’ murders and schemes were found out, he had to make a hasty exit from Chicago, leaving Rogers holding the bag for the many debts incurred by the company. Rogers died nearly penniless only three months after Holmes was executed in May of 1896 and is buried at Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery next to his wife Cremora.

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The Rand McNally Building and Holmes

Directly across LaSalle Street from the Rookery Building stood the Rand McNally building. This was where Holmes met with one of his other rich and famous swindle victims, Thomas Barbour Bryan. Mr. Bryan was the first vice president of the “White City” and also the president of the World’s Congresses during the fair. Holmes met with him at the World’s Columbian Administration Offices in the McNally Building on the 4th and 5th floors. We will discuss more about Bryan and Holmes in a different location in this adventure. The Rand McNally Building was demolished in 1911 and a new building was erected on the same site that once housed the City National Bank and Trust Co.

Lobby of the Rookery Building

The lobby of the Rookery Building is open to the public during business hours which allows you to walk in the footsteps of Chicago’s architectural greats as well as the footsteps of the murderer and swindler, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. Don’t forget to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust in the southeast corner of the lobby.

Divvy Bike Location

There is a Divvy Bike rental location on the north side of the Rookery Building on Adams!

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